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B2B SaaS Sales: 22 powerful tips to win more SaaS deals

Learn about value-based selling, cold calling, objection handling, hiring your first sales reps, sales discovery phase, finding real pain points, and much more about B2B SaaS Sales strategies.
Alexander Estner

Founder / Startup Mentor, Eversports/ Strydal/ Classcamp/ Working on new start-up right now

If you want to grow your business and want your great product to be used by lots of customers, you need to know how to sell your SaaS product. Great SaaS products still need sales.

In this blog, I’ve put together 22 powerful SaaS sales tips that will help you to master your B2B Sales and close more deals.

P.S. Even if the 22 tips are written for Sales in B2B SaaS, they can be applied to more or less every sales organization.

#1 Always ask for something in return

A quid pro quo is super relevant in B2B Sales. Especially in the early stage (if you try hard to close your first customers) or end of quarters (when sales reps need to hit their targets) many startups offer massive discounts without anything in return. It’s way better (and more convincing) if you always ask for something in return. Here is an example: ‘I can offer you a 10% discount for the first year in exchange for XYZ (e.g. long-term commitment, a case study with you, being one of our first testimonials, for 3 intros to other potential customers…).

#2 (Good) cold calling still works

The success rate of cold calls decreased over the last years to around 1-3% (for booking an appointment). Reasons are low availability (voicemails) and more and more people prefer written communication. But on the other hand, depending on who you are targeting (and how they use phones in their daily work), it can still be an effective growth channel. Important for the success of your sales calls are:

  • Knowing your ICP (ideal customer profile) and what they care about

  • Be on point and don’t steal their time (no one wants to listen to an unknown caller for hours)

  • Speak conversationally and not like a sales robot

  • Have a great 1-sentence value proposition ready

  • Prepare yourself mentally and be full of enthusiasm (you need to feel it)

  • Talk about them and not about you (how you can make their life easier)

  • Prepare for the call (quick research about the prospect) and have a great reason to call (e.g. a recent article about them; new funding; new hire…)

  • Have a clear call to action (e.g. schedule a sales demo meeting)

#3 Close your first 100 paying customers with unscalable strategies

Most startup founders love the idea of having scalable customer acquisition (sales and marketing strategies) in place straight from day one. They hope they don't need to talk to the customers and spend time on manual work, instead, they want nice paid ads on Google, Instagram, or Linkedin, plus a nicely designed website with a self-service SaaS product without human interaction.

While this is of course the desired strategy for startups who’ve found product-market fit and want to scale, I would highly recommend starting manual hand recruiting your first paid customers by doing stuff that does NOT scale (e.g. Outbound Sales, phone calls, emails, etc...).

Preferably you start with customers you already know personally or are within your network. In case this is not working for you, I would suggest you start manually outreaching your target customer.

Here are some potential strategies for you:

  • Direct Messages via Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram (depending on your target customer)

  • Outbound Email (with some Email Sequences)

  • Outbound Phone Calls

  • Social Network Groups (e.g. Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups)

For all those methods it’s crucial to have a well-defined ideal customer profile (ICP).

#4 Don’t hire too early in Sales - Founders need to close the first 100 paying customers

You as a founder need to figure out sales yourself. This means you should take care of closing the first paying customers before you hire your first sales rep - this is called founders-led sales.

Being the one who is outreaching to potential customers, doing the sales demos, and even onboarding the first customers helps you to learn about your target audience - especially about their pain points, objections, and the way they talk (speaking the same language as your customers) and of course feature requests.

All this helps you to build a better product for the right segment of the market (your ICP and positioning) and to work on your sales narrative and value proposition.

So as a founder (even if you are the technical founder) you need to work on the basics of your sales strategy before you hire your first sales manager. Once you know how to close deals, and you can not handle it anymore alone, it’s time to hire your first reps.

#5 Sell values, not features

No one really cares about your features. They want to know how you can make their life easier, and what’s the value of your product for them. So you need to transform your features into benefits. Demonstrate what are the benefits for your customers if they use your product (your features).

In B2B SaaS the main value is mostly to increase revenue or reduce cost, or improve productivity.

On top of that, your product will deliver different (functional vs. emotional vs. social) values or results for your customers. Sell those results, not your features.

#6 Call inbounds within the first 5 minutes to massively increase your conversation rate

If you are following sales-led growth strategy (=getting your prospects on a sales meeting) and prospects get in touch with you (e.g. contact form), being as quick as possible with your reply really matters. It’s best to keep your response time for inbounds below 5 minutes. Why?

  • They will still remember who you are (maybe even still be on your website)

  • They will mostly also get in touch with your competitors, so being first is an advantage

  • You will reach them at a time they are available and think about your product

Also think about adding the option to book a call with your sales team, so they do not need to wait for you to get in touch with them.

#7 Track your performance and know your sales funnel

I would recommend you to track your key activities (emails sent, calls, sales demos, closing calls, onboardings…) as well as know your sales funnel and conversions (e.g. MQL to SQL or win rate after a demo). Only if you measure your performance and know your metrics, you can take a conscious decision on where you need improvements.

#8 Why Sales don’t stop with paying customers - make them successful

Even if you’ve achieved the first step to getting your customers to pay for your product, you need to work hard on making them happy successful customers - otherwise, they will churn (earlier than you imagine).

Implement a new stage in your CRM to track how many of your paying customers are becoming successful customers. Clearly define what a successful customer is (e.g. 100 messages sent, 3 integrations activated, 3000€ transaction volume…).

#9 Great first sales hires want to become industry experts

Lots of sales reps, if they start working for an early-stage startup, don't really understand the product and industry - which isn’t a problem. The problem is if they are not willing to dive deep to understand the customers and gain knowledge about the industry and build their own network. So once you see a sign that they do not want to become industry experts, it’s a clear sign for you to search for a replacement.

#10 If you listen more than you talk, you will sell more

The ratio of talking to listening is important for the quality of your sales meetings. Based on different research on sales conversations, top sales reps talk less than 45% and listen more than 55% of the time to the customers. Important is to actively listen (e.g. find information about their pains, as well as objections and next steps) and ask open questions and the W questions.

#11 No generic sales pitch

In every customer interaction (e.g. cold call, sales demos, onboarding training…) it’s important that you customize your sales pitch to the individual customer. No one likes to be treated as a number. So do your discovery and understand the specific situation of the company, the person you are talking to, and of course their motivations, triggers, and real pain points.

#12 Discovery phase during the sales demo is key - don’t skip it (for sales-led)

Discovery during your sales demos is key - listen carefully and note your customers’ pain points.

A great discovery is a combination of asking the right questions (to find pain points) and getting your prospects to confirm them. Only after a great discovery, you can move on in your sales demo and present solutions on how you can help them to solve their pain points and what’s in for them (the value, ROI).

So don’t do one-size-fits-all demos.

#13 Don’t sell your solution before you got your prospects to confirm that they have the pain.

Don’t sell your solutions before you know the problem (pain points) of your customer and get them to confirm that they also have the problem. Take notes and write them down in your CRM.

If you haven’t found them, continue with your discovery phase.

Once you found the real pain points, you can move on and present your solution to them (and remember: talk values, not features).

#14 Understand the real pain points of your customers

You will never close a deal without a (real) pain point. Pain is the driver why prospects are open to solutions and ultimately the reason why customers will buy your product (or why you can close them). Your customers will hate their pain points, but for you, they are also opportunities, because they tell you exactly what your customers want most.

And it’s important that you don’t make assumptions about their pain points, you need to identify the real pain points.

Ask open questions and lots of Why to get the real pain points. What is the ultimate trigger?

Example: Getting from a weak pain point (intentions) to a strong actual pain point.

Customer: We (customer) need better automation for our CRM management.

You: Sounds interesting. Why is this important for you?

Customer: Because at the moment it takes a lot of time to manage our CRM.

You: Okay I understand. Let me better understand what you mean by ‘a lot of time’?

Customer: At the moment we have 5 employees who take care of CRM operation full time - this is of course way too much compared to our company size.

You: Okay, I see. It’s really important for me to get the full picture. So, why exactly is this a problem for you?

Customer: Well, honestly we need to reduce our overhead costs in order to grow more profitable and be able to raise new funding. We can’t afford to pay so much money just for CRM operations work. So, it would be better for our financials, if we could reduce the costs by 50% or more.

You: This makes totally sense. What do you think your employees will say?

Customer: That’s another great point. Honestly, those employees would love to spend their time and skills on actually closing more customers. They only took care of CRM operations because it was necessary.

You: Got it. So let me summarize: The reason (pain) you are interested in our product is that you want to reduce the costs associated with CRM operations to improve your financials as well as use those resources to close more deals (more revenue). Can you confirm that?

Customer: Yes, exactly.

#15 Don’t pitch all you have - only as much as needed

You as a founder (or early employee) are so convinced about your product, that you want to pitch all your cool features and give your prospects all the information you have - BUT you will overwhelm them with information. So, only communicate as much information as the prospects can consume and focus on always highlighting the values, not the features.

#16 Clear next steps impact your win rate

Guiding your prospects through the whole customer journey is really important - so be conscious about the next steps they need to achieve. But especially for your sales meetings, being specific about the next steps and clearly communicating them to your prospects, will have a massive impact on your win rate. Ideally, you get them to confirm their next steps and expectations to increase their commitment. Here is an example:

  • I will schedule a ‘closing call’ with you as a follow-up on the XYZ date

  • Additionally, I will send you the contract and onboarding information today via email

  • Additionally, I will add 3 testimonial and their case studies

  • In case you have any questions, you can send me an email anytime or call me via +49XXXXXXX

  • You will talk next week with your CTO about the API integration

  • Anything that I missed or can you confirm the next steps?

#17 Always follow up (with summary & value selling)

After every sales meeting make sure to follow up (via email & on time). A great follow-up email includes:

  • short summary of sales call

  • including highlighting the value proposition and key results the product delivers for the customer

  • clear next step(s) (e.g. follow-up meeting scheduled on XYZ date)

  • personalized content (e.g. their specific pain points)

  • keep it short + easy to read (e.g. bullet points, marked bolded)

#18 Ask for the Close, don’t wait until they ask you where to sign

At the end of every sales conversation there is the moment where it’s getting a bit nerve-wracking - can you actually close the deal?

If you have done a great discovery, found pain points (confirmed by the customer), and shown the value of your product, and if you are confident that your product is a good fit for your prospect, it's time to ask for the sale.

Even if they decide that they are not ready, or that the price is too expensive, or they postpone their decision, it’s good that you’ve asked for the sale. You can now ask ‘Why’ and learn what’s missing for them to take the decision and tailor your follow-up based on that.

#19 Let them decide between Basic or Premium

Don’t ask your prospect, if they want to move on (become a customer) or not? It’s better to shift their attention to answering the question if they want your basic plan or premium plan (and not if the product at all is right for them).

Here are some great sales closing questions:

  1. Based on our conversation, it seems like (the premium plan) of our product is the best fit for you to solve your (main pain point). What do you think?

  2. Do you have any more questions or are you ready to move forward? I can send you the contract right away (and we go over it together).

  3. Based on your individual requirements and preferences, I believe our Product A and Product B are a great fit for you and your company. Do you prefer to go with Product A or Product B?

  4. It seems like our product is a perfect match for you. Is there any reason I should be aware, that you wouldn’t sign a contract with us?

#20 Your buyer persona is a human - so be human as well

Don’t read phone scripts, and don’t pitch your product like a robot. Of course, you should prepare and make use of great templates, but still, make it personal and human. So try to speak freely.

Positive side effect: When you speak freely you will talk slower which makes it easier for your customer to follow you.

#21 Know the main objections and work on powerful objection handling templates

If you know the main objections of your customers and if you are well prepared on how to overcome them, you will most likely close way more deals and see an increase in your sales win rate.

The most common objections in B2B SaaS are ‘Your product is too expensive’ and ‘You are missing a specific feature that is important for us’ and ‘We can’t make a decision right now’.

And here is how you should deal with them:

  • Too expensive —> Don’t give up on the deal and also don’t offer a discount, because you will lower the value of your product, in fact, you need to go back and present again the value of your product (as they haven’t understood the full value of your product).

  • Missing feature —> Don’t panic, rather ask questions about why they need this feature and what problem it solves for them. The chances are high, that your product can already solve the problem (sell the value again) or that the feature is coming soon.

  • Can’t make a decision now —> Again, dig deeper and understand what’s missing for them to take the decision. Is it because they are missing a feature or because the product is above their budget (see how to address those above)? What is the real reason that they can’t decide now? Mostly it means that they are not fully convinced yet.

#22 Qualify your customers - don't sell to every interested prospect

How do you make sure that a prospect is a qualified customer and fits your ICP?

Even if declining interested prospects sounds contra-productive for achieving your goal to grow the business, it actually helps you to focus on the right customers and double down on them.

I would highly recommend qualifying your prospects to make sure you only serve the right ones. A good way to do so is to ask 3-5 qualifying questions - depending on the answers you decide, if those are the right fit or not.

If you follow these sales tips you will quickly grow your business and close more deals.

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